A new computer is pre-configured with factory settings. Running your computer with these defaults leaves you open to security breaches. Note: with all security measures, whether software or your operating system, the manufacturer will issue regular notices of updates or patches. Register with each manufacturer to ensure you receive the notices, and install new versions promptly.
Here are some ways to help safeguard your personal information and keep your computer safe
- Anti-virus software: your computer can become infected with a virus in various ways, such as email attachments, content download from a website, or through infected media (DVDs, USB drives, etc.). Anti-virus software helps prevent your computer from becoming infected and your files from being corrupted or lost. It also can detect existing viruses and clean your computer so that they do not spread. Always use up-to-date anti-virus software that is capable of scanning files and email messages. Most anti-virus programs include an auto-update feature that enables the program to download profiles/signatures of new viruses so that it can check for them as soon as they are discovered. Register your new anti-virus software immediately, and sign up for automatic notification of product updates to ensure your computer is protected.
- Anti-malware/Anti-spyware software: malicious software attacks are increasing at a staggering rate. Malware generally refers to any program that intentionally harms your computer and is typically installed without your consent. Malware can access your computer if you do something as harmless as clicking on an ad, going to a website, or even unknowingly downloading a document. In some cases, malware actually poses as anti-malware software. Your best defence is to keep your browser, operating system, and applications up to date, and to consistently run updated anti-malware software.Spyware is a particularly nasty type of malware, and is designed to essentially “spy” on you by tracking and collecting your personal information. The information collected often includes your user IDs, passwords, name, and address.
- Firewall: is designed to filter the information coming through the Internet into your computer, permitting communication only with sources you know and trust. It helps prevent unauthorized access, protecting your home network and family from potential hackers. If you do not have a firewall installed, any personal information stored on your computer or distributed using the web may be accessed by an attacker for as long as your computer is connected to the Internet. Many computers have firewalls built into their operating systems. Ensure you turn off any default firewall before installing a new one. Also, do not run two firewalls simultaneously. Most modems or routers installed by your ISP have firewall capabilities. Where possible, you should use them. For more details, contact your Internet service provider. Restrict traffic that travels through your firewall by only granting access to those programs and/or traffic that you are familiar with. If you do not share files or documents with other computers on your network, disable the file sharing feature. Doing so will prevent others from being able to download or view your files or documents.
- Browsers: Many browsers include filters that can block phishing sites. The newest editions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and Google’s Chrome all include this feature. Filters are an important tool, especially when used in conjunction with other anti-piracy tools. Sign up for automatic notification and any security software updates, if available, and download them as soon as you can. Always use a web browser that supports 128-bit encryption when accessing secure websites. This ensures that your data is transmitted confidentially over the Internet
- Wireless: Wireless routers are very convenient. They can also leave your computer vulnerable to malicious hacking. Ensure you change the default password for your router, whether internal, external or wireless. On your network, enable the wireless encryption and disable the SSID (service set identifier). Precise details for encrypting and hiding identifiers are different for every device. Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for specific details.